I’m often surprised just how many people don’t know about smartphone battery cases, especially as so many people seem to be complaining about poor battery life these days.
A battery case is just that – a combination of a protective case and battery, or more specifically a portable power pack that you can use to top-up your battery if it’s running low. They’re fantastically useful gadgets that don’t add much size or weight to your phone in most cases, and can provide an entire charge or even more.
This has several benefits. Firstly, it means you can go twice the time or even longer between charges – great for vacations or extended periods away from power or even just because you hate having to charge your phone every day (I completely sympathize there).
Secondly, they provide an immediate source of power wherever you are so if you forgot to charge your phone the night before or used it more than usual and found yourself with 3% battery left, you don’t need to hunt around all the local coffee shops for a spare wall socket.
One of the latest battery cases is from a company called PowerSkin, who actually make cases for Samsung, HTC and Blackberry smartphones too, not just Apple. However it’s the iPhone 5/5S model, called simply the PowerSkin for iPhone 5 that I’m looking at here.
Your iPhone 5 or indeed 5S just slips straight into the case, which sports an Apple Lightning connector on the inside and micro USB for charging and syncing on the outside and actually comes in two parts – a rubber inner, which can be used as a case itself, which also houses the battery, and an optional plastic hard case. The idea according to PowerSkin is that people have different preferences as far as how smartphone case materials go so decided to offer both options.
That said, even the rubber inner adds a considerable amount to the depth of an iPhone 5/5S. In addition, there’s a very angular ridge that runs round the edge of both cases, which can be a little uncomfortable.
Thankfully both cases look great and protect everything except for the screen, rising up to protect the bezelled edges of the iPhone 5/5S that are such scratch magnets and are left to fend for themselves with many other cases.
There’s a power button on the rear that can be used to both see how much charge there is left via four blue LEDs and also to stop/start charging. The battery offers a 1,500mAh capacity – this isn’t as much as many other cases out there and many of these, which have 2,000mAh or higher, are just as slim, if not slimmer than the PowerSkin too.
That said, it did manage to charge our flat iPhone 5 to just over 80% from flat, which is no mean feat, plus unlike external portable power packs like the ones I reviewed here, the PowerSkin is always with your phone.
However, many of the other battery cases we’ve used have managed 100% or more, especially those retailing for the same price and many are thinner too. The PowerSkin for iPhone 5 is available from Amazon for $46 in the U.S. or £36 in the UK.